We all have friends and carry on conversations that take place at different levels. Different levels of emotions, different levels of caring, different levels of intentness.
Bill Gothard, in his Institute in Basic Youth Conflicts, has identified four "Levels of Friendship".
They are (1) acquaintance, (2) casual friend, (3) close friend, and (4) intimate friend.
I think we should also develop some type of friend-o-meter. How we measure our friends and how much we value their friendships on the different levels. It is a way you judge how many close friends you have and how comfortable you feel.
The circle of 5 advertisement by the certain cell phone carrier is a great indicator of where we sit with our friends and family. Also I think it helps as we look at those in our larger circle. What about our circle of 20, 50 or 100? So if we graded on a friend-o-meter with 100 of your contacts in your phone or database how would you come out?
If you took 100 people from your contact list how many could you put in the following categories:
Random things of an acquaintance/casual friend:
Those you could ask for an extra quarter if you are short at the drink machine.
Help you out with cash at lunch one day you forget your wallet (my friends all know my trick).
A ride from the mechanic when your car is in the shop. Getting a ride to or from the airport.
Watching someone’s house, picking up their newspaper, getting the mail while out of town.
Items with a close friend:
Counsel shared from either and knowing it won’t leave that room.
Listening to frustration and not trying to fix anything just listening.
Coming by the second time during the day to see if they are really ok (because you know when they said everything was ok the first time they weren’t telling the truth).
Calling them to check on them even when you are tired and you know they many not want to talk.
Driving by to see them even when it’s out of the way and you have a to do list that isn’t half way done.
“No, really it’s ok I have time to talk.” When you have to be somewhere. I can remember being in the certain places where I had heard the tough news from different friends, whether it was in my car, in my office or face to face. (I also recall the times I didn’t make the call when a call was probably just what a friend needed)
Those you can share anything without being judged.
Those you can say what you want to say without fear.
Those who will tell you in time what you may not want to hear, but they will say it anyway in love.
Percentage wise we all differ. I would venture when we get down to it we all have a list of about 5% (or 5 out of that 100) you can count on to share the things you really want to share.
One of the worst ways to hurt is hurt emotionally. Most people don’t know what to say or how to handle it in the most effective way. So they do the best thing they think possible; they turn the other way. They go and completely ignore the person hurting emotionally.
The person who has lost his job, lost his health, or lost his family is less intimating than the man who is struggling emotionally.
We know how to reach out or put people on a prayer list for a list of illnesses. We know what to pray or counsel for when people lose something tangible.
It is hard to put down that this person is hurting emotionally and sometimes feels the weight of the world. Or this person has a feeling of loneliness that makes them not want to go on. The feeling of being kicked in the gut and not knowing how to get up off the floor.
Where are you?
It’s why I do what I do. I love to be able to visit with young men and talk with them about their struggles. I told our team my job was to get the absolute most our of their potential whether they liked it or not. Today’s kids have less fear. They are willing to put in time, but sometimes resist change and teaching at times. “Don’t hamper my ability to teach you by involving your emotions. You have to allow me to do my job to the best of my ability so I can help you be at your best. If you resist if hurts our chance to grow as a team and your chance to grow as a player and young man,” I told them.
I wonder sometimes why we limit ourselves. We limit ourselves in our relationships. We limit ourselves in our own ability to grow. We limit ourselves by worrying about what others think.
Expand your 5%. Expand the people you feel close to and who you can share with when you struggle. Most young people struggle and never have someone to talk with about their issues. I want our young men to find people they can talk to so they can “empty the bucket,” That’s my phrase for being able to get everything out. You have to have someone you can “empty the bucket” with or it gets stuffed inside. I’ve seen the young adults and adults that stuff it inside and it doesn’t work.
My challenge is to see how you can be there for other people and whose 5% are you in?
Who would call you in time of need? Not superficial need, but real need?
Who would you call and what are you doing to improve that relationship?